As always, I am bringing you the latest Zen Africa Magazine cover issue. As a vibrant/independent and growing fashion publication, Zen Africa Magazine puts the spotlight on Africa’s brightest stars, shakers and movers. For this month cover issue, we have Nqobilé Ntshangase, Ezinne Asinugo and Soliat Bada of the dance group CEO Dancers. For more on Zen Africa Magazine and the amazing work they do, check out the latest issue here.
Jessica White is a fun-loving, LA based designer who ambitiously created her own line, The CASA de MODA , that encompasses “an enhanced version, maybe even the alter ego of myself” to quote her. She indicated that she loves to travel and that is evident in the fabrics she uses, perfect for the girl on the go. We caught up with the burgeoning designer to discuss her design inspirations and how she’s managing her brand…
Who is Casa de Moda woman?
CASA de MODA style is classic with an unexpected edge. The CDM woman is a modern city girl. She is fun, ambitious, successful, loves travel, and lives life with a purpose. She works hard, plays hard, and wears CASA de MODA for her life away from the office. Wether it’s cocktails with the girls, a night out with that special someone, or a special event, she knows she’ll make a statement without looking like she tried too hard. She loves that she can pair her CASA de MODA pieces with items in her existing wardrobe to dress them up or down and making them great day to night transition pieces.
We love that your materials are animal friendly? Do you find that this improves the quality of the garment?
I am absolutely in love with the fabric I used on the “Acute Angle Shorts” and the “Flap Jacket”! It’s 100% Lyocell and I love the look and feel of it. It’s similar to linen in that it’s a perfect spring fabric, however it’s extremely soft against your skin, lightweight, and drapes beautifully. Unlike Linen, it’s does not easily wrinkle.When sourcing fabrics, I was happy to see that there are some great eco-friendly options, including animal friendly leathers that don’t compromise the quality of the garment.
How are you standing out from the rest of the design world?
CASA de MODA is special in that production runs are smaller, making my designs a little more exclusive. In addition, it is a brand you can be proud to support. God blesses us our a talents to make a positive impact. This season, I took a small step by incorporating eco-friendly fabrics. However, as CASA de MODA continues to grow and evolve as a brand, my goal is to open the level of diversity in the fashion industry, and continue to make positive impacts along the way, it doesn’t matter how big or small.
Who are the designers that inspire you?
Back when I was in fashion school, I did a report on Tom Ford and ever since then he was my imaginary BFF! I love his attention to detail and precision when it comes to design. When I was going through the design process, I would keep that in mind at fittings. No detail is too small, if a garment needs to be changed just a pinch….it doesn’t matter if it’s a small pinch, you change it! Olivier Rousteing at Balmain…… need I say more. Also, the California Girl in me loves Heidi Merrick.
What tips can you offer up and coming designers when it comes to managing the financial aspects of a brand?
Plan ahead. Before you spend your first dollar, set up a system for how you will track costs & sales. Take a class, set up an appointment with the SBA (Small Business Association), or make an appointment with an accountant to show you the most efficient way for you to set up your system.
Organization. Set aside specific times of the week to record & update your financials. Keep every business related receipt and download an app on your phone that allows you to scan your receipts for easy tracking.
Stay on budget. As a new designer you will source a lot of services such as PR, marketing, production etc. Remember slow and steady wins the race. Decide how you will break up your finances and stick to that budget as much as possible. When you first start you will be a jack of all trades.
Be Patient. Starting a fashion line is costly. There will be a lot of dead ends, but sometimes they lead to an open door. I would say to myself… “There is a way, I just haven’t found it yet” So be patient and have faith.
Where can interested buyers find your pieces?
We are currently having a pre-sale that begins 4/1/2014 at www.cdmjessicalynn.com and I have some exciting news. Sereine Magazine readers will receive free shipping on any Pre-orders they make through 4/15. Use promo code: SEREINE.
For updates on CASA de MODA, readers can follow at INSTAGRAM & Twitter: @cdmjessicalynn and FACEBOOK: Casa de Moda by jessica lynn
Thanks to Jessica for sharing your insights and extending this offer to our readers!
Hey guys! We had some technical difficulties last week but it’s back to our regular programming. L. Catherine London is one of our new designer features for the week and the garments for her Fall 2014 line are pretty impeccably made….
The London based, International Institute of Fashion “Polimoda'” graduate cut her teeth at the Emilio Pucci Fashion House and worked as a TV fashion journalist before launching her own line. She is all about perfect craftsmanship and luxurious fabrics that give her clothes a very polished edge. I love her incorporation of knitted material and printed silks as it gives the pieces a cozy yet cosmopolitan feel…linked together by overt femininity. I also enjoyed the graphics she used in certain pieces that reminiscent of a serene park on a snowy day in Europe. Take a look below!
Great collection from a novice designer. What say you SM family?
Photo Credit: L.Catherine London
Today’s Emerging Designer feature comes courtesy of Leyla Yucel of Leyla Yucel Handbags. We love that her bags are not only intricately designed but functional for everyday use. We caught up with the young artisan to talk inspiration, money management and the woman she designs for ….
ABOUT LEYLA YUCEL
Leyla Yucel, the second of three children born to Turkish and Puerto Rican emigrants, was born in Brooklyn, NY, where she currently lives and works. She has worked in the design rooms of such brands as Kate Spade and Charlotte Ronson, in both creative and technical design roles. In her own words, “As a designer, I think it’s very important to have a solid technical foundation.” Indeed, part of her preference for designing handbags over apparel is to have the freedom to utilize her extensive technical skills: “Bags are very sculptural and permit a lot of room for creativity but creating a structurally sound bag required extensive technical knowledge, which is a challenge I enjoy”.
Leyla Yucel takes pride in always having drawn inspiration from disparate sources: Art highbrowed and low, classical and contemporary; Turkish tiles and Italian Futurism; science fiction and science fact. She neither labels nor discriminates, nor harbors preconceived notions but, rather, takes on their own merit and terms those things that speak to her. To quote English painter John Constable: ““There is nothing ugly; I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, — light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.” For the styling of her bags – the details and the mood she wanted them to evoke – she took cues from Twin Peaks. Her selection of burgundy microsuede lining for the interior of the bags, the Chevroned wings on her Palmer bag, and even the styling of her campaign photo shoot all reference the final episode’s strong, surreal imagery and styling — the red velvet curtain, the hypnotic chevron floor, as well as the film noir, femme fatale look of the character, Audrey Horne.
We love your pieces! What inspired you to pursue handbag/accessory design?
Thank you! I’ve found that my design process and my aesthetic lends itself well to handbags. I like how sculptural bags can be, and how much design can go into a single bag. There are many components to design – the structure, the hardware, the straps, the interior, and so forth. Also, there are a lot of technical and creative aspects to consider when designing a handbag, which I really like.
The fashion world is a very crowded place, everyone wants to be a designer! How are you setting yourself apart from the rest of the pack?
I hope that I’m setting myself apart by designing from a unique perspective: My references and inspirations tend to be unusual and eclectic varying from film and music by David Lynch to the science fiction by Philip K. Dick. I hope the resulting designs and projected style translates into a brand that is unique and desirable.
Managing a fashion brand can be daunting especially when it comes to the financial aspects. What advice can you offer up and coming designers regarding the business of fashion?
It is definitely difficult. I work for another designer full-time, which is how I’m financing my collection at the moment. For me, having a lot of technical skills and knowing Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop has saved me a lot of money. If you are looking to save money, you really have to do a lot of it yourself. However, you also have to know what you can do yourself and what you need to pay others to do–if you don’t have the skill, it is better to pay someone else that can do it properly.
Who is the Leyla Yucel woman ?
She has a modern look and is curious, cultured and a bit edgy. She loves design and fashion and is in constant pursuit of the covetable (fashion’s favorite word).
How can interested buyers purchase your pieces?
Good question! 🙂 My bags will be available to purchase at retail in Fall 2014. If you’re an interested wholesale buyer, please do e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leyla’s eponymous collection of designer handbags will make its debut during the Fall/Winter 2014 season. MSRP $568-$1012.
Thank you to Leyla and her team for helping to bring this feature together! As always, share you thoughts below on this designer and don’t forget to follow Sereine Magazine via social media on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Photographer: Erika Hokanson
Model: Natalie Herzig
Makeup & Hair: Teresa Brown
Stylist: Ashley Palmer
When Yoli Rapp first thought of leaving corporate America, she never imagined owning a fashion boutique on wheels. But her growing dissatisfaction for the nine-to-five lifestyle soon became too intense to ignore. As a vendor at the Green Flea Market on the weekends, she began to listen to her own customers’ feedback and soon realized there was a missing opportunity in the mobile fashion truck market – one that sold new and used designer clothing, from Chanel to Yves Saint Laurent. She decided to give her vision a go in 2012 and created Le Fashion Coupe, a high-end mobile shopping experience. Operating Le Fashion Coupe and talking with real women, provided Yoli with insight into how they wanted to be styled. She began working on silhouettes full-time for her own designer line, Yoli Rapp, which launched in late 2013. The Yoli Rapp Collection is for the every woman – the mom, the executive, and the student looking for comfortable, sexy pieces that transition easily from day to night. They want to make our customer feel special by delivering looks that are simple and elegant but reasonable. Along with the Bohemian Luxe apparel collection is the Alma Di Piedra Collection, one-of-a-kind, handmade jewelry made of leather and semi-precious stones.
Who is Yoli Rapp?
Yoli Rapp is the “typical” New Yorker – unfiltered, outspoken and passionate. She prides herself on being loyal and honest. That attitude is what, for the most part, helped Yoli obtain a loyal clientele. If something is not flattering, she will address it immediately. “If a customer purchases something from me that doesn’t look good on them, I feel it is my obligation to tell them and explain why. It’s not about making a quick sale. It’s about establishing a long-term relationship”.
Can you tell us more about the collections?
The Spring/Summer 2014 collection was inspired primarily by the feedback I received from my boutique customers. Most lead hectic lives and were all in search of staple pieces, comfort, versatility and flattering silhouettes. The color palette was inspired by sand and sea. There are 3 fabric choices – super soft jersey, non-itchy metallic and silk. I purposely veered away from too many prints. Most women want solid colors, which they can mix and match with their existing accessories. The fit is what is the most important to me. When a woman wears Yoli Rapp, I want her to feel comfortable and sexy!
I think your mobile boutique “Le Fashion Coupe” is such a fresh idea! Tell us more….
I was on a plane on my way to Chicago, when I came across a magazine that had an article about fashion trucks. At that time, my mother and I were working at a fantastic Flea Market on the weekends selling new and designer resale clothing. I recall thinking, “As soon as I get off this plane I’m calling my husband. I’m getting a truck!” Within a week, I purchased a truck and Le Fashion Coupe was on the road! It was an amazing experience for me.
How do you go about collecting designer pieces for your customers?
My boutique on wheels was the first to house curated items from Chanel, Gucci, YSL and Proenza Schouler to Rag & Bone. My customers ranged from 20-60 years old. I gained so much knowledge. I learned what silhouettes they preferred and why. I would watch to see what colors they were drawn to. Le Fashion Coupe was the platform I needed to venture out and start my own collection. The experience was priceless!
As we know, fashion is often times 60% business and 40% actual fashion. Do you have any financial advice that has served you well in managing your brand that you can share with new designers?
Starting your own line can be very expensive….and lonely. I’ve made so many costly mistakes along the way. If I could turn back time I would do many things differently. My advice to new designers is “slow and steady wins the race.” First, purchase a book about starting a fashion business. This is your reference guide. A $30 investment goes a long way vs. hiring a consultant for $500 (or more!) just to have them tell you exactly the same thing. We sometimes become so enamored with fashion itself that we don’t think about the business side. Artists like to create, but at the end of the day, it’s still a business. Once you make your decision to move forward then you need to be frugal. Think about your customers’ lifestyle. This will eventually become instrumental; not only in your designs, but in your branding as well. Visit a few department stores to get a better understanding of who your competition is and what their price points are. Before you decide to buy even one piece of thread, make sure that the fabrics you choose have continuity. No sense in buying a fabric you are in love with to later find out that you can’t get more then 50 yards. Read as much as you can about manufacturing. Some may not agree with me, but I think fashion shows, when jumped into prematurely, are a waste of time and money. I would start small – allocate the dollars towards the samples, patterns, photo shoots, website development, social media, marketing and copy. Do a few trunk shows, markets and street fairs with minimal inventory. Pay close attention to how shoppers respond to your collection. Their feedback will help you edit your collections and build your confidence. Remember, negative feedback is not negative! When you eventually venture out and meet with boutique owners, equip them with as many selling points as possible. For example, my Dolman Sleeve Shift Dress covers the midriff, thighs and arms. Women are often searching for tops that cover these problem areas. It can be worn with heels, boots or sandals. Pair with simple accessories for a look that’s office-appropriate or with bold accessories for a glam, evening look. Grab some of the accessories they sell in the store and show them how beautifully they can pair them with your pieces. They will love and appreciate the advice.
Great advice! The world of design can be a very crowded place. How are you setting yourself apart from other emerging designers?
The world of design can be a crowded space, but there is truly something for everyone. I’m trying to pave the way with pieces that I believe women will wear and want in different colors and fabrics. I have a checklist that I created for each design based on customer feedback. If a design doesn’t meet the criteria, it needs to be scratched from the collection. For example, a silhouette can look absolutely beautiful in a size small, but would never work in a large. That needs to be scratched then because down the road, this may need to be sold in a pre-pack and a boutique owner is not going to want to get stuck with a surplus of inventory. I would have never known this if I wasn’t on the retail side. What I think sets me apart from other emerging designers is that my collection is primarily driven NOT by design, but by what’s going to really sell. If retailers see that your line is moving, they will purchase from you season after season. Building long-term relationships are key.
How can interested buyers contact you?
Interested buyers can visit my website at:
http://www.wholesale.yolirapp.com or call the Los Angeles Blackout Showroom at 213.624.2477 to schedule an appointment to view the collection.
Thank you so much Yoli for sharing so many gems with our readers! Very special thanks to Beth for facilitating this introduction.
We are back this Monday with another “Career Woman Monday” post with Ronit Genik a fashion designer based out of New York City. In the interview below Genik tell us about her brand and future plans.
Hi Ronit can you tell us about yourself.I realized at a young age that I loved fashion. I was always sewing, creating accessories and sketching, coming up with new designs. I have always been passionate about creating and being inspired by new ideas. My mother also loved vintage and designer clothing, so I grew up looking through Vogue and other fashion magazines and trying to borrow my mom’s clothes!
You graduated from the prestigious Parsons School of Design right here in New York City, what was your experience like there?Attending Parsons School of Design was a great experience, from being in the heart of the fashion district to learning illustration and draping from their accomplished teachers. All the students were so talented and ambitious, so it was very inspiring and motivating. I also attended Parsons in Paris for a year, which was an amazing experience. There I learned everything from building a corset to screen printing to hand knitting. It was great to also get a European perspective in Fashion.
When did you start your label and why? I started my label because I believe by using luxurious fabrics and one of a kind prints, Reverie reflects a sense of individual style and confidence. I choose fabrics and concepts that are very personal and special to me and I think that comes through in each collection.
Can you tell us about your spring 14 collection and tell us what the process was like for you while designing it?The Spring collection is inspired by Light. I was first inspired by the Edison bulb and its beauty, I loved its purity and simplicity. I liked the idea of telling a story through print, so I created a cloud print, a lightening print, Edison bulb prints and other prints inspired by electricity. My inspirations are always very fluid so I started from nature clouds, lightning, which then inspired electricity to the creation of the light bulb, I thought this was an interesting take for my collection. I also love to use fabrications to tell a story. For Spring, I used sheer fabrics like silk chiffon and organza overlayed to create movement and fluidity. I also used different textures like to juxtapose the difference fabrications, and keep them feminine but edgy and modern.
The fashion industry is a tough business, how do you set yourself apart from other designers?Since launching Reverie, I have been creating beautiful, chic clothes for the women that embody youthful edge and personal style. Within each collection, there is contradiction that lies between feminine and edge, soft and structured. Reverie is timeless,transcending day to evening for the confident, unique woman.
I know that your pieces are available at a few stores in New York City and Massachusetts, do you plan on adding an online shop to your website? Yes, we hope to expand to an online shop in 2014.
Where do you want to see your brand five years from now and what do you think is one of the biggest challenges that you are facing at the moment to get you there.
I hope to keep growing as a brand, developing into more areas like accessories, shoes and jewelry. The biggest challenges are breaking into the industry as an emerging designer which can be tough, as well as getting noticed and staying on top each season. As there are many established and up and coming designers out there, staying true to your brand and being innovative and finding new inspirations that are meaningful to you are key to success.
What are your must have fall staples and what are the beauty item (s) that you cannot live without? My must have fall staples are chunky sweaters, vintage scarves and my classic fedora. My skin gets very dry in the fall so I keep my face hydrated with La Mer moisturizing cream.
Finally, how can people get in contact with you?
Fashion Designer Yasmine El Said is an entrepreneur with a clear idea of what fashion should be for women. The French-born designer who has been trained at some of the most prestigious fashion houses in Paris wanted to create her own women’s couture and ready-to- wear label. Two years ago, her dream came true when she launched “YASMINE” a contemporary fashion label that will speak to women looking for feminine and sexy silhouettes. Despite her busy schedule, the budding designer took time to tell us about herself and what her brand is all about.
You are a French-born designer currently based in Cairo, Egypt. Why did you choose to launch your line there and not in Paris?Cairo is home to me, so I thought I should start from there. Building the brand from scratch and then hopefully take it internationally one day.
I have met and spoken to a lot of emerging designers from the African continent. Pretty much everyone seems to say that as such, they lack the opportunities that many European and American designers have when it comes to getting press, sales contracts and bringing awareness to what they do. Do you find it to be the case?
Yes, definitely. Especially in Egypt, good press is really difficult.We do have several fashion based magazines, however, they are not like international magazines since they are only based in Egypt.So the press you’ll get will only be published in Egypt not internationally like Vogue, Numero, Elle etc…
Two weeks ago, we featured luxury eco-friendly fashion designer Johanna Riplinger in our “Career Woman Monday” Post. After meeting Johanna in Paris this week-end, I got to learn and bit more about her designs and future plans for her brand. Check part two of the interview below. If you miss part 1, you can catch it here.
What are some of the most important challenges and advantages that you have experienced in establishing your personal label?
Creating a new fashion label is a long complex process, and time is one of the greatest challenges, because the fashion world as such is a very fast moving sector. But also, for me personally as designer and entrepreneur, there are so many things to do, and it is important for me to do them correctly and in the right order. Of course, at the beginning of any new business, there are always drawbacks and obstacles to be overcome, but these represent challenges that stimulate creative thinking and acting. Sometimes when I feel disappointed that things are not working out the way I had planned them, I later realize that, all in all, the answer that I ultimately settled for was in fact, the ideal solution that I would not otherwise have hit upon. Increasingly I am learning to be patient and to take my time in building up my business and in designing my creations – accordingly to the proverb “good things take time”– and thus I try to do everything in the best possible mood and with carefully measured energy.
One of the major advantages that I have enjoyed in the course of establishing my label is the numerous marvelous encounters with all sorts of people on the way; these encounters have led to new forms of collaboration, to manifold inspiration and assistance, and, above all, to great new friendships.
Who is the woman that you design for and what is the message that you are trying to convey to her?
I design for a broad spectrum of very individual women worldwide. Basically, I have in mind a woman with wide-ranging tastes and interests with a strong aesthetic sense that enables her to appreciate both refined sophistication and natural harmony. Such a woman is confidently self aware; she is conscious of her choices and of her impact; and she actively participates in the life of her society. She is able to stand up for her convictions and to assert herself in public as well as in private life. Her style reflects her appreciation of luxury, in the positive sense of comfort, enjoyment, and wellbeing. All in all, there is more to her than meets the eye.
The message I want to communicate to her is that she can be herself and believe in herself, and that she should bring out all her hidden talents and latent forces – in short, that she should be confident to be the woman that she is. Thus, the clothes I design for her are meant to encourage and to assist her to appreciate and to express her genuine femininity, both inwardly and outwardly, in her own individual and personal way.
I am very inspired by women and love to create for real women, not only for models. Anything can look lovely on a model but it’s more challenging to create something which beautifies each woman with her own truth. I try to find cuts and shapes which women can immediately relate to, feel good in and feel truly themselves.
I try to find cuts and shapes that real women can easily and immediately relate to, can feel good in, and can truly be themselves.
I know that you are planning to enter the US Market can you give us more info about it.
I plan to enter the US Market in 2014 with my collections. At present, I am looking at different platforms in order to find the right one and the right way for me to enter the overseas markets, e.g., the right locations, the right people and the right partners, in order to reach not only professional buyers but also the final customers. In taking this step, I am also looking forward to getting back to a part of my origins, for I have American as well as German roots. Soon, part of my collections will be available online.
Retailers are currently stacking up for the fall and winter seasons: what can we expect from you this fall? Are there any key pieces in your collection that you think every woman should have this fall?
I think it’s important to choose well among the new fall and winter pieces and to match them with one’s existing wardrobe. Among my favorites for this winter are the angora pullovers, which really keep you warm. They are made of 100% French angora, the rare naturally powder-colored wool of rabbits, which are raised in a natural manner by local breeders in the center of France. It is soft as feathers and the finest fur, and wearing it is a most luxurious and sensual experience!
Where can people buy your clothes and stay connected with you?
The best way to connect is by signing up for my online newsletter and by following me on one of the social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and most recently Pinterest. Soon, part of the collection will be directly available online in addition to being sold in various European multi-brand and concept stores or in temporary pop-up stores especially in France and Germany. Furthermore, if you subscribe to the online newsletter online I will keep you informed throughout the year about private sales and trunk shows which I organize regularly.
For the professional audience I will be exhibiting during Paris Fashion Week in the well selected high fashion fair MeMy which takes place just off the prestigious place de Vendôme in Paris.
Special thanks to Johanna for taking the time to meet with me in Paris. If you would like to get in touch with Johanna Riplinger, Follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook and Pinterest. Most of all, support emerging new talents.
Photos courtesy of Phil Dera
Just before moving to Paris 11 days ago, I was able to ask German born, Paris based fashion designer Johanna Riplinger a couple of questions regarding her brand and what she hopes for the future for our CWM (Career Woman Monday) segment. Get to know this amazing designer and see for yourself what sets us apart from the bunch.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a designer? If not how did that happen and when did you start your company?
Yes, as a child, as long as I can remember, I thought of becoming a fashion designer. I have been drawing, sketching, and sewing women’s and girl’s clothing. At the age of sixteen, I took on my first commission job, which was a long natural-silk wedding gown designed and tailored for one of my teachers at school. From that time on, I have been spending most of my free time not only in designing and sewing, but also in researching the possibilities of using natural instead of synthetic dyes and fabrics, and looking for ways and opportunities to develop fashion lines with a positive ecological and social impact.
You are a green luxury fashion designer, why did you choose that route?
I grew up in the country side in southern Germany, surrounded by a lovely natural garden immediately opening to fields, meadows and woodlands. Thus, from my earliest childhood, I have always been drawn to and inspired by nature. Indulging in my passion for fashion design has thus always been intimately connected with my experience of nature. While still very young, I began to take my inspiration from this never-ending source. Nature teaches us that creativity is endless and that the more we use our creativity, the more it develops and expands. Furthermore, observing nature also teaches and calls for exercising respect. It shows us, that whatever we do or create has an impact on our physical and social environments and that we must choose consciously to take responsibility for our actions. But nature, which is so incredibly rich and abundant, imparts a very positive message, and this is what I attempt to convey with my catch-phrase “green luxury fashion”.
The fashion industry is filled with designers all hoping to make a name for themselves. Why do you think that there is room for eco- friendly designers like yourself? And what sets you apart from other designers committed to green fashion?
I believe that if you really want to accomplish something in life, you will find a way to do it, despite any real or apparent obstacles. Today – more than at any other time throughout history – we live in a world of free choice. This is very clearly reflected in contemporary fashion. There is no longer only one trend; there is a variety of different currents. Within this spectrum of different styles and trends, a large number of fashion designers now co-exist harmoniously without necessarily competing with each other. Especially among socially and ecologically conscious designers, collaboration and cooperation are becoming the rule rather than the exception.
To set my collections apart from those of other designers in the ‘green’ spectrum, I do my best to design my creations to communicate a clear message of what I stand for. For me, two things are essential: my most important aim is to boost the wearer’s sense of femininity, and my second aim is to use, as far as possible, eco-friendly materials and natural dyes and to manufacture under fair working conditions.
As to the first goal, I see too many women today unimaginatively following prevailing conventions or trends and lacking the courage needed to dress in a truly elegant feminine way. Thus, I do my best to create womanly garments that enable the woman wearing them to be herself, to feel good in them, to take pride in her femininity, and to feel appreciated in her social environment.
I was really impressed by the collection that you recently presented during the Show Floor Berlin this past July. What was your inspiration behind it?
This last collection and its presentation at the Berlin fashion show was inspired by one of my most cherished sources of inspiration: the element of WATER. I have always been deeply fascinated by water, with its beautiful dreamy underwater world and myriad creatures, its manifold surface appearances etc – about that I could go on for hours… Given the contemporary problems with water and especially and increasing rareness of clean water, it is imperative that textile production and marketing develop ways to ensure that water is used economically and without polluting it. This is one of the reasons why I attach so much importance to using natural dyes. The process of dyeing using extracts of flowers and other natural elements that I use for coloring my creations is not only ecologically neutral, but, in fact, it can even have a naturally beneficial cleansing effect on water.
Thus, I entitled this summer 2014 collection “IMMERSION”, in order to express the idea that the flower petals in becoming immersed in the water transferring their delicate colors to the fabrics. Seen as a whole, this collection is a poetic translation of that idea using a color palette of light blues and watery greens, white and red touches and floral motifs. The entire atmosphere of the show – starting with the accompanying music written by the talented young composer Cyril Broque and the introductory film clip showing colors gradually diffusing in water against a bluish atmosphere with numerous reflections – was designed to evoke a playful imaginary underwater world. This imagery was reinforced, as well, by the wet-look hairstyling of the models. Thanks to a recent underwater photo shooting, I am now able to illustrate this theme much more clearly – If you follow my Internet presence on the social media, you’ll be among the first to see the complete story now illustrated with stunning images.
Joanna is definitely a designer that values nature and stays true to herself. It is nice to see someone with a clear vision of what she wants while at the same time trying to change the way that many of us see fashion. She is showing us that being eco-friendly does not equal to boring. Based on some of the looks of her latest collection, I see why her brand is getting the recognition its deserves. Part two of this interview with Johanna Riplinger will be posted next Monday in our “Career Woman Monday” segment.
Photos: Phil Dera
So we are back after a short break with another “Career Woman Monday” Post. Today we have South Africa based emerging designer Rina Chunga of Ri.Ch Creative Factory above. After stumbling into her designs which I think are fabulous, I wanted to know more about the designer behind the brand. I recently caught up with the budding designer and she was kind enough to answer a few questions regarding her fashion label and life aspirations.
Did you always know that you wanted to be a designer? If not how did that happen and when did you start your company?
I am an artist at heart. I was probably born drawing and with my unnatural love for clothes it only makes sense that I would be a designer. My seventh grade teacher actually wrote on my uniform the last day of school that he’d see me on fashion TV one day.
Can you tell us (Americans/ Europeans) about the fashion industry in South Africa and how it is different from what we see on the streets of major European/US cities?
It’s a bit of a tough one to crack because it is a burgeoning industry and celebrity driven. But because it is growing, there is still a lot of room for up and coming designers to pop in.
What have been some of your challenges in establishing your brand?
I think finance is always a huge one for any up and comer but also from a personal stand point identifying your target market and editing your designs to be sellable has been a challenge.
I have noticed that Nigeria is becoming a hot market for a lot of designers from the continent/diasporas trying to showcase their work on a bigger platform. How do you feel about this?
I love how Nigerian people have a strong understanding of who they are and I think that is why they are so prominent in so many industries. I like that. I definitely want to break into the Nigerian market.
As an Afro/European woman, I often deplore the lack of diversity when it comes to designers from Africa and other areas where people of color are dominant. Do you feel that somehow they are being left out of the fashion industry and why?
Due to the auto exotic gaze on Africa, people either expect designers to strictly stick with the traditional African aesthetic or they aren’t African enough. If you aren’t in either slot it’s even harder to break through.
I got to see a few of your pieces but overall, can you tell me what your brand is all about? Who are you as a designer? What do you wish to accomplish?
Here is the short version of a story that has taken 24 years to write. I am a Botswana bred, 24 year old multi-racial designer with a Zambian father and South African mom. A chubby-cheeked hippy artist at heart, a free soul, a music lover and easy going. ri.ch is a mix of my different heritages… heritages?? Is that a word? Lol oh well you get what I mean. I would like to be a well known brand that anyone not just Africans can relate to.
The fashion industry is saturated with designers all hoping to make a name for themselves, how do you plan to set yourself apart from them as an upcoming fashion label?
I think branding is very important if you know what you are selling and people know what you are offering. I plan to sell my brand which is a mix of African and western cultures in the freshest way with a strong street culture connection.
What would you like to change in the industry that you feel hold back so many talented African designers?
What I would change is not in the industry but in the education system. I think artist aren’t given the backing they need at an early age and talent is easily lost.
Are there any trends that you are crazy about right now?
Luxury sports wear. I am definitely for that. It’s easy and super cool.
I have never been to South Africa before so can you please tell us where we can find some authentic South African pieces.
Ha-ha well at ri.ch creative factory 😉
What can we expect from your line in the next few years?
Well for spring (September) my range will be on sale online which is pretty exciting so look out for that. Next year, there are plans for fashion week and so forth so it’s really getting out there.
Where can people buy your clothes and stay connected with you?
You can follow me on Facebook ri.ch creative factory, on Twitter and Instagram @richfactory and Pinterest/ Rina chewing-gum. Also u can email me on email@example.com. This spring, you will be able to shop for rich online at Floral Raffia, a South Africa based e-commerce fashion site.
Thanks Rina for doing this interview. Cannot wait to see more from you in the future.
Lameka Weeks has always had a problem finding well-fitting, fashion forward pieces to compliment her 6’1″ frame. Her Texas based boutique Height Goddess caters to women 5’9 and over looking for super cute reasonably priced finds. She works with 2 other designers to help conceptualize and construct pieces that they feel women want. The inseam on her jeans and even maxi dresses comes in various inseams up to 40″! Weeks has also implemented a “Be the Buyer” program where customers can take part in suggesting designs they’d like to see in the future. As a virtual buyer, they can view potential designs and vote on their favorite looks by clicking the “Want It” button from the website. Their vote gives Weeks a more accurate guideline about what customers would like to see in the Height Goddess line.
I’m really excited about some of her offerings judging by the website she has some great looks. What do you guys think? Click the link above and leave a comment.
For her resort 14 collection, fashion designer Wayne Lee opted for a wardrobe that incorporates fall pieces that are light, not to serious and that women can take with them on vacation. She told Style,com, “I always want it to be less serious than fall, pieces you could really wear on vacation.”
Indeed! This collection is a mix of summer and fall pieces that will make the transition between these seasons easier for fashionistas when the warmer days will make room for cooler ones, as seen below with a bomber jacket over a skater skirt .Flowy and bouncy skater skirts/dresses are everywhere this year. They are so popular and it seems that this trend will go beyond summer.
Colors are bright but also toned down for fall with black leather and sheer panel as seen on one of the looks below.
We have the pleasure of speaking to professional makeup artist Kenetia Lee. Kenetia wears many hats including that of author, personal coach, and speaker with over ten years of experience. Her focus within that time has been to help women transform themselves from the inside out, and to inspire them to tap into their brilliance. See what’s on her mind below….
Hi Kenetia, and thank you for spending some time with SM. You’ve uniquely branded yourself as a “beauty activist”. Can you let us know what that entails? I advocate for people to feel good about themselves from the inside out. Because everyone deserves to feel beautiful.
Wardrobe stylist Pilar Scratch is the niece of one‘s of hip hop most talented female MCs, rapper Rah Digga. She got her start styling her aunt’s Digga’s comeback video “This Ain’t no Little Kid Rap”with Grammy nominated rapper Busta Rhymes. Soon after, she interned at Ammo Magazine and from there, her career took off as a wardrobe stylist, fashion designer, TV personality and radio host/producer while juggling the demand of being a mom.
SM: Pilar thank you for doing this interview. I am very glad to have you on Sereine Magazine for our latest feature on Career Woman Monday.
Pilar: You’re welcome, it’s such a vast honor to be interviewing with you dolls.
SM: With your aunt, Rah Digga being well-known in the entertainment industry, do you think that it made it easier for you to get your start as a wardrobe stylist, fashion designer and in the entertainment industry?
Pilar: Certainly, my aunt is amazing. She has supported me since the commencement of my career until now. No matter how minute the event I was doing or radio show she’s always been supportive.
SM: I am asking that question because I know from experience that it does help in life to know the right people to get where you are trying to go. Also because a lot of people don’t take seriously people they feel are riding on their famous relative’s coattails. What are your thoughts on that?
Pilar: Its understandable. I bump into questions like that during interviews. My aunt opened a door for me. It took me to walk through the door, hard work and to network for me to become who I am today. My aunt being a hip hop icon aided me a lot, but there’s so much that comes into being a stylist and acquiring a clientele. It has been complex for me but I stuck in there . I am immensely blessed.
SM: Way before your career took off, you were a model. How was your experience working as a model and do you think that it helped fuel your desire to start your own wardrobe and image consulting business?
Pilar: Well, my mother and aunt had my twin sister and I modeling before we could speak lol. We were on Nickelodeon for a while and did some modeling, commercials and pageants. But, I love fashion. I was always the eccentric female that conveyed herself through clothes. I was sewing garments with my grandmother since I was eight. It was always a passion of mine.
SM: Pilar you are also a fashion designer and the name of your line is called Scratch. What is the meaning behind the name?
Pilar: Scratch comes from making my clothes from “Scratch”. As a child I spent a vast amount of time on punishment for using blankets and sheets to create outfits.
SM: You got your start as a wardrobe stylist as mentioned above working on your aunt’s music video. Is there an artist that you would like to style on his/ her next music video shoot and why?
Pilar: I would loooove to dress Rihanna or Kim Contrell (as soon as she releases her subsequent record I’m first in line lol).
SM: Designing and styling is just a fraction of what you do. You have made a lot of TV appearances in shows such as Jerseylicious and The Glam Fairy on the Style Network and What Not To Wear on TLC. How did all these gigs come about, and how was the experience like working on such popular TV shows?
Pilar: Nothing short of amazing…. Just being in that environment is breathtaking. I am always in shock. At times I really cannot believe it’s happening to me.
SM: You also worked on the set of the 2012,TV series Americana on ABC with actors Anthony LaPaglia,Tiffany Hines, Ashley Greene and legendary costume designer Patricia Field. Pilar you must have been on cloud nine working with all these talented people. How do you come back to reality once you experience such an amazing experience?
Pilar: Honestly, when I am working with a major network, I always tell myself, this is a stepping stone. I don’t celebrate my success. I am consistently saying what’s next? How can I improve ? What did I learn from this experience?
SM: Now on a serious note, I hear from a lot of women who work in the arts whether it be in TV, Fashion, Media etc… that it is not all glitz and glamour. 90% of the time it is about work, work and more work, and how it is not as easy as a lot of people may think. What is your take on that?
Pilar: The quotation is so accurate. It’s not all glitz and glamour. It’s hard work, it’s complex. A lot of people want to be in the industry for the fame but realistically, a lot of people could not handle it mentally and physically. It can be immensely exhausting. You have to really want it.
SM: Pilar you are a busy woman so my next question to you is how do you find the time to produce and host a radio show on top of all your other activities while at the same time being a mom?
Pilar: Unearthing equilibrium was the most complex task for me. I am a single mother of a two-year old. I travel, I am an executive producer, wardrobe stylist and designer …so I am always occupied. When I am not working, I am working..lol ….I just have a balance with everything. I am always finding ways to improve myself as a mother, person in my career.
SM: On what frequency, day and time can people listen to your radio show?
Pilar: clubzone.fm Sundays 8-10pm
SM: Any advice for the young souls interested in following your steps in fashion, radio and TV?
Pilar: It’s cliché but follow your heart. Always trust yourself, because at the end of the day, you always will have yourself.
SM: Last but not least, where can people find your designs and what is next for you?
Pilar: I am working on my online boutique now. It should be running by July.
Thank you for answering my questions. Pilar is always on the go so if you would like to keep up with her daily activities check her out at www.pilarscratch.blogspot.com, Twitter& Instagram: @pilarscratch.